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Smith v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

February 15, 2018

RODNEY SMITH
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs December 5, 2017

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 14-03151 James M. Lammey, Judge

         The petitioner, Rodney Smith, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his Shelby County Criminal Court convictions for attempted especially aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, convicted felon in possession of a handgun, and convicted felon in possession of a firearm. On appeal, the petitioner alleges he received ineffective assistance of counsel due to trial counsel's failure to call a material witness at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Andrew S. Deshazo, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rodney Smith.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy Weirich, District Attorney General; and Glen Baity, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          J. Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          J. ROSS DYER, JUDGE

         Facts and Procedural History

         A Shelby County grand jury indicted the petitioner for one count of especially aggravated robbery of victim Derrick Cornell, one count of aggravated burglary of Mr. Cornell, one count of assaulting victim Shaneka Carruthers, one count of employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony against Mr. Cornell, one count of convicted felon in possession of a handgun as a result of a prior rape conviction, and one count of convicted felon in possession of a handgun as a result of a prior felony drug conviction. The grand jury indicted codefendant Lorenzo Horne for one count of facilitation of especially aggravated robbery and one count of accessory after the fact. The petitioner and Mr. Horne were tried separately.

         A. Trial and Sentencing

         At the petitioner's trial, the jury heard testimony that Mr. Morris Mitchell, who was not called as a witness, was an ordained minister that owned a house located at 3055 North Trezevant from which he sold drugs and operated a prostitution ring. The petitioner and Mr. Mitchell had known one another a long time, and the petitioner frequented Mr. Mitchell's house for the purpose of smoking marijuana. The evening of November 9, 2013, Mr. Mitchell called the petitioner and asked him to come over and bring a scale to weigh narcotics. According to the petitioner, who testified at trial, when he arrived at the house, Mr. Mitchell met him at the car. Mr. Mitchell, the petitioner, and Mr. Horne, who was already present at the house, walked to the side of the house and entered a room that Mr. Mitchell unlocked from the outside. Once inside the room, the petitioner put the scale on the table. He heard angry voices coming from a back room. Mr. Cornell then charged into the room naked and hit the petitioner in the head with a gun. The two fought, and the petitioner was shot. Ms. Carruthers, who was only partially clothed, entered the room while the men were fighting.

         The petitioner denied robbing anyone that evening. The petitioner described the house as "a dope house" and testified that Mr. Mitchell "pimps girls" out of it. For these reasons, Mr. Mitchell does not allow anyone in the backroom of the house.

         Ms. Carruthers also testified at the petitioner's trial. She admitted to being a prostitute and indicated she and other women brought men back to a room in Mr. Mitchell's house, had sex with them in exchange for money, and gave Mr. Mitchell a portion of the money earned "as a result of doing business" in his house. The evening in question, Ms. Carruthers brought Mr. Cornell to Mr. Mitchell's house. Mr. Cornell paid Ms. Carruthers for sex. Ms. Carruthers gave Mr. Mitchell a portion of the money received from Mr. Cornell and bought narcotics from Mr. Mitchell. Ms. Carruthers then brought Mr. Cornell to the back room in Mr. Mitchell's house.

         While in the back room with Mr. Cornell, Ms. Carruthers heard a knock on the door and thought it was Mr. Mitchell. Both Ms. Carruthers and Mr. Cornell were naked. Mr. Cornell opened the door, and the petitioner hit him in the head with a gun.

         Mr. Horne also testified at trial but offered a slightly different version of events. Mr. Horne confirmed the petitioner, Mr. Mitchell, Ms. Carruthers, Mr. Cornell, and a couple others were present in Mr. Mitchell's home the night of the robbery. The petitioner was smoking marijuana, and Mr. Horne was smoking crack cocaine. Mr. Mitchell left the house, and the petitioner pulled out a gun and indicated he was going to rob Mr. Cornell, who was in the back room with Ms. Carruthers. Mr. Horne told him not to do it, but the petitioner left the room and walked to the side of the house. Mr. Horne then heard gun shots, and the petitioner asked Mr. Horne for help because Mr. Cornell was "fixin' to kill" him. Mr. Horne tried to kick in the door, but it did not open. Mr. Horne then left in a truck, found Mr. Mitchell, and brought him back to the house. Mr. Mitchell opened the door to the back room, and the petitioner exited. ...


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